With SS Rajamouli’s RRR hitting the screens, multiplexes are expecting to end the fourth quarter on a high. Exhibition players said that not just the Telugu version of the film but even the Hindi version is witnessing strong viewership at the cinemas. Backed by a strong content line up seen in recent times, analysts believe the exhibition industry, which was hit hard by the three pandemic waves, is on a robust recovery path.

Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, Inox Leisure Ltd said, “March has emerged as the best month even when compared to the pre-pandemic levels due to the release of strong content at the box office. Looking at the strong response from movies buffs, RRR will set new records at the box office.”

Barring West Bengal and a few cities in Maharashtra, multiplexes are now operating at 100 per cent capacity across the country, critical for the industry to make strong recovery. RRR has been released in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam in about 7,000 screens worldwide.

Strong lineup

Kamal Gianchandani, President, Multiplex Association of India said, “While the Telugu version is seeing housefull theaters, we expect even the Hindi version, which is a critical part of the business, to also see similar response. Starting from March, the kind of content that will be released over the next 12 months will be one of the best line-up seen in many years for the industry.”

Analysts agree that the recovery momentum will further accelerate from April onwards for the exhibition industry.

Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital said, “Even on a like-to-like basis when compared with March 2019, there is a 30 per cent growth in box office revenues expected for exhibitors and we expect this momentum to accelerate April onwards due to a strong content pipeline. We estimate recovery at about 80 per cent in terms of box office revenues compared to the pre-COVID levels due to strong content line-up.”

Ticket prices up

Abneesh Roy, Executive Director-Institutional Equities, Edelweiss Securities also added that a robust revival is on the cards for the multiplex industry. “Cinemas have now reopened pan-India and most key States are permitting full occupancy. Multiplex ticket prices are up 14 per cent with similar recovery across cities. With schools reopening and kids receiving vaccinations, going to the cinemas, as a family, will begin gaining traction again,” he said,